The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice group : its zoology, botany, ethnology and general structure based on collections made by Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney, N.S.W.
A game formerly played on Funafuti, but which is not now practised, was that of throwing a toy dart. I have gathered a few references to this game as played elsewhere in the Pacific but further literary search would probably widen the known range.
Captain Erskine has thus described the game as he saw it played in Fiji†:—" On our return to the Mission house we met a number of men in full dress, that is, painted either black or red their hair frizzed out and decorated with blue beads, some wearin-garters or bands tied in bows under the knee, and a few with a kilt or petticoat, resembling that of the women. Each carried a short cane, with an oblong, pear-shaped head, forming a kind of blunt dart, with which a game called "tika," or "titika" is played We followed them to the spot, which presented a very gay scene, a hundred or so of persons being assembled at the sides of a level, well swept mall, about one hundred and fifty yards long, and five or six wide, skirted with trees and shrubs. Each player advanced in turn, and threw his dart at a mark placed at the end of the mall, but none of them exhibited much skill, nor did the game seem to us one of any interest, and all were quiet and decorous."‡ On the authority of Dr. Turner, Edge-Partington publishes from Niue a "head of a dart used in a game," which closely resembles the one before me.§
† Erskine-Journal of a Cruise among the Islands of the Western Pacific 1853, p. 169.
‡ Another description of the game in Fiji is given by the Rev. J. G. Wood-Natural History of Man, ii., 1870, p. 283. In the Journal of the Godeffroy Museum, iv 1876, pl xvi, fig. 1, a player is drawn in the act of casting his dart, "ulutoa." The attitude is the same shown me on Funafuti.
§ Edge-Partington—loc. cit., i., pl. xxxix., fig. 1.
In the Banks Island and the New Hebrides "the game is played by two parties, who count pigs for the furthest casts, the number of pigs counted as gained depending on the number of knots in the winning tika. There is a proper season for the game, that in which the yams are dug, the reeds on which the yam vines had been trained having apparently served originally for the tika. When two villages engage in a match they sometimes come to blows."*
Dr. Gill notes in his Diary that it was formerly the custom on the island of Nanomana, Ellice Group, that "when a young man wins a reed throwing match, his own sister testifies her joy by coming into the assembly stark naked and clapping her hands."
Fig. 76. Fig. 77.
Another toy consisted of a cube of plaited pandanus leaf, served as a light ball, with which, on the beach, groups of girls amused themselves by tossing to each other and catching. A specimen of the "anou," as this is called on Funafuti, is shown by fig. 78, it weighs three-quarters of an ounce, and measures two inches cube.
From Ruk, in the Carolines, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum possess a "cube of plaited pandanus leaf used as a ball."
Ellis has described a game, "haru raa puu," played by the Tahitians with a large ball of the tough stalks of the plantain leaves twisted closely and firmly together.§
* Codrington—The Melanesians, 1891, p. 340.
† Ellis—Polynesian Researches, i., 1836, p. 227; iv., p. 197.
‡ Gill—Myths and Songs, 1876, p. 179.
§ Ellis—loc. cit i., p. 214.
At Simbo, in the Solomons, Mr. N. Hardy tells me he saw a globular leaf ball tossed from hand to hand.
Spinning tops I found to be a popular amusement on Nukulailai. Their tops were simply cone shells (Conus hebraeus and C. puli-carius) spun on their apices. A game was to spin two shells into a wooden dish out of which by rotating and colliding the winner would knock the loser. The shells were spun either like a teetotum between the finger and thumb, or, to give greater force, the anterior end was steadied by the finger and thumb of the left hand, while the impetus was given by drawing the right fore-finger briskly across it, as shown in fig. 79. A shell of C. hebraeus I purchased, the broken lip of which betokened much service, was called "vaitalo."
On Funafuti, a sort of toy windmill was contrived by plaiting four arms of palm pinnule, mounting this on a stand of palm riblet, and thrusting the latter into the sand, The wind would then rotate the arms. This toy, called "bekka," is shown at fig. 80.
Mr. J. S. Gardiner tells me that he saw this toy windmill in Rotumah, and it has been lately recorded from the Solomons by Lieut. B. T. Somerville, R.N.*
* Journ. Anthrop. Inst., xxvi., 1897, p. 409.